In the wake of the 2014 police killings of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and other innocent black people, I collaborated to deliver a surge of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs. In the fall of 2016 after the election of Donald Trump resulted in a number of terrified employees raising concerns for their personal safety, I collaborated to deliver another rush of DEI programs. Now, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officers, Breonna Taylor’s murder by Louisville police officers, and other videotaped vigilante and police murders of black people, my colleagues and I who work on DEI matters find ourselves in another heightened period of activity.
I have a request for my white colleagues: I ask that we never lessen the current urgency of our personal and organizational commitment to ending racism and linked oppressions (sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism).
White supremacy/racism is the reason our organizations:
- Get whiter at each progressive level of authority.
- Lack the connections that make it easier to recruit/hire people who are not white.
- Lose new hires who are not white.
White supremacy/racism is the reason that most of us, as individuals:
- Grew up in exclusively white neighborhoods, attended schools and communities of faith surrounded almost exclusively by white people, and, consequently, feel most comfortable in the company of other white people.
- Experienced an education which taught us that white men created everything of value in the world.
- Consume mainstream media that leaves us uninformed about the realities of slavery, lynching, Black codes, Jim Crow, redlining, mass incarceration, and the disproportionate killing of unarmed black people by the police.
If we are to create a truly just world, including just workplaces, we who are white must place our work to end racism and linked oppressions as much at the center of our lives as white/supremacy is today. When we lessen our striving to end white supremacy, we invariably end up perpetuating it, such is its grip on our way of life.
One key support for this work can be found in reading. I’ve attached an image showing current and classic titles that I believe have great importance for white US citizens. I hope these titles prove helpful to you, and I hope that you stand with me in this transformative effort.